Born: October 29, 1942
Died: November 24, 1968
Ohio connection: Birth
Darryl Alfred Levy was born on October 29, 1942, on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio. His father was a shoe salesman who had emigrated from England, and his mother was a homemaker. The family would move around the greater Cleveland area throughout the years, settling in the suburb of Bay Village in the early 1960s.
After graduation, levy began sneaking out at night to hitchhike into Cleveland, oftentimes spending the entire evening in the city. Brought before a judge at the urging of his mother, Levy was given the opportunity to either go to jail or enlist in an armed service. He chose the latter and enrolled in the Navy, completing basic training and serving seven months as a medic before he was discharged for refusing to participate in daily activity. The official reason for his discharge was listed as “Manic-Depressive Tendencies.”
In January 1961, shortly after his discharge from the navy, Levy briefly traveled to California and then to Mexico before returning to Cleveland to sleep on the floor of his cousin’s home, refusing to return to his parents in Bay Village. Throughout the early 1960s, Levy further integrated himself into the Cleveland poetry scene, befriending local poets including Adelaide Simon, Russell Atkins, Russell Salamon, and others. During this time, he assisted with editing Free Lance magazine, moved around the city, slept on various floors, wrote poetry and created drawings.
In 1963, Levy purchased a used letterhead hand press which was to become one of his main methods for distributing his poetry. He taught himself how to make his own letterpress books which included Fragments of a Shattered Mirror, Variations on Flip, and More Withdrawed or Less. Levy also began publishing mimeograph magazines such as Silver Cesspool, The Poets at the Gate, Marrahwannah Quarterly and The Buddhist 3rd Class Junkmail Oracle. He consistently signed his name abbreviated with lower-case letters as d.a. levy.
Facing legal woes, harassment by local police and other personal troubles, d.a. levy died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on November 24, 1968.
Cleveland Memory Project: The D.A. Levy Collection
Ideastream: Poet d.a. levy Led a Poetry Revolution from Cleveland
Wikipedia: D. A. Levy
MOCA Cleveland: D. A. Levy
Recommended: Sanders, Ed, Kon Pet Moon, and Bottom Dog Press. 2007. D.A. Levy & the Mimeograph Revolution. Edited by Larry R Smith and Ingrid Swanberg. Harmony Series. Huron, Ohio: Bottom Dog Press.